Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Virtual Fridge: Japanese Goldfish

We have just started working on a review of ArtAchieve.  We reviewed Level One last year and loved it, so I was very excited to see them as a repeat vendor.  This year we are reviewing Level 2.  Today we decided to start with The Japanese Goldfish.  We needed white paper and markers to complete this project.

 This is the warm up sheet.  Every ArtAchieve lesson has a warm up.
 It is drawn in black marker.
 And then colored in.

Last you work on the background.

Lily (8)


Emmie (6)

Anthony (11)

Christian (9)

Linking up here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Grace and the Preacher releases today!

24 year old Grace Cristler works as the postmistress in her town of Fairland Kansas.  Her uncle has decided that it is time for him to step down from the pulpit and Grace is responsible for corresponding with the Rufus Dille, the man set to take his place.  Grace had all but given up hope on getting married, but begins to feel attracted to Rufus through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run.  Ten years ago Theo decided not to help his cousins take part in a robbery and now that they are out of prison, they are seeking revenge.  A set of unusual circumstances could help provide Theo with the escape he needs, but the young man's con might come at an enormous price.

Historical Fiction is my favorite type of book to read.  But, specifically my favorite type of Historical Fiction are books by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  There's just something very special about the way she writes, the time, effort, and emotion put in each of her books.  But the most important element are the messages of Faith, Hope, Forgiveness, and the Love of God that shines through each of her novels.

Grace and the Preacher is a fantastic story.  It is a romance, but it is much more then that.  It is a story about following God's path for your life and trusting in Him rather then man.  It is a story about redemption and forgiveness.  It is a story showing that you are never too old to follow God's call on your life. 

You will fall in love with the town of Fairland Kansas and it's characters.  I loved Grace and Theo, but my favorite character  is Aunt Bess.  She is a wonderful mother figure for Bess and Theo, but she treats everyone in the town with love and kindness.  She's not afraid to do or say what she thinks is right and she is always seeking God's plan for her life.

I highly recommend Grace and the Preacher and other books by Kim Vogel Sawyer!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC regulations. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: Creating a Masterpiece

When I was in school, I did not like art at all.  I did not think I was good at it, and found it to be very frustrating.  Since I started homeschooling, I have always tried to make art a priority, and make it fun.  We have used many different art resources over the years and I love when we have an opportunity to try out a new program.  I was so excited to be able to use and review the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece.

Creating a Masterpiece is an online art program for ages 4 and up taught by master artist Sharon Hofer through streamed video lessons.  This fine arts program was designed to help students create art step by step that will make them proud of their work and feel like a real artist. There are over 144 projects on the website arranged by level from  Beginner to Level 5 and Art in History. The Art in History level  features different level projects from different time periods in history. Each level has a variety of projects and use many different types of art media. Some projects can be completed in one sitting while other more difficult projects will be created over a period of time. 

The Monthly Plan ( $39.99 a month) gives your family access to all of the levels.  There are other purchasing options as well including an annual plan for all the levels ($349 per year) or purchasing one level per year(starting at $119 per year). You do not need to complete projects in any kind of order, you can pick and choose the projects that you are interested in doing.  Supply lists for the projects are available once you sign up.  The cost of each project will vary greatly depending on the type of projects you choose and the supplies you already have on hand.  Recommendations are given to buy good quality to art supplies in order to produce better results.  Some supplies such as oil or chalk pastels can be shared by multiple students while other supplies require you to have one for each student.  The supply list will tell you how many of each supply you need for multiple students.

Each project is split up into smaller lessons so you can stop and start easily.  You will find lesson tips and photos of lesson highlights for each lesson as well as downloadable high resolution image,supply list, and also photos of reference art.

You can sign up for a sample project.  No credit card information is needed.

One of the reasons I was so excited to have an opportunity to review this was because we had access to all of the levels and I could use Creating a Masterpiece with multiple children of any age.  I have been using this with my 5,7,9, and 11 year olds over the last six weeks.  We started with the Sample Project and I was amazed at how well the project turned out!

Sample Project





Our nearest art supply store is over an hour away, so I looked over the projects in the Beginner Level and Level One so I could make a list of what we needed and order it online.  I wanted the children to have a chance to use different types of art media and try some things that we have never done before. I had some supplies on hand already such as chalk pastels, oil pastels, brushes, and water color paper.  To complete the projects I chose for the review period, I spent around $50  and we have done 10 projects so far.  I ordered my supplies from the online art store linked from the Creating a Masterpiece site and purchased the recommended supplies.  I did not buy one type of paper because it was out of stock and just used regular construction paper instead.

Floral Medley Watercolor

I just love the variety of projects!  But I also like that several of the projects use common supplies.  I bought watercolors and we have used those twice so far.  When you look at all of the project supply lists you can see which projects use similar supplies. Most of the projects in the Beginner Level can be finished in one sitting in under an hour.  For a couple of the projects we had to wait for something to dry before we could move on to the next step.

Winter Cabin Oil Pastel

I love that even though we all are sitting in on the same lesson, no two projects look exactly the same. Each project is made their own and not a complete copycat of the example on the video.

Sailing Adventure Charcoal

I find that video instruction is a great way to teach art in the homeschool.  Creating a Masterpiece brings the expert artist into your home and allows her to teach your children.  I chose to sit down and do all the projects with the children, but with a child that is old enough to use a computer you could have them do the lessons on their own.  You also can repeat a lesson as many times as you want to.  I did not like my Italian Window drawing the first time I did it, so I went back and repeated the lesson.

Italian Window Mixed Media


my 2nd attempt

Candlelight Mixed Media

We have had a chance to try different techniques and use supplies that we have never used before.  We made trees using straws!  We used Tombow pens ( I had never even heard of those before),  charcoal, and soft pastels.  We made a mixed media project using oil pastels and Bombay Ink.  We shaded using drawing pencils.  We have learned so much already and have had a lot of fun!

 African Sunset Watercolor

Something else I've noticed is that the children are using some of the things they have learned in their other artwork.  After we did Winter Cabin, I noticed Christian has been drawing cabins on papers everywhere and after we did the Cardinal, Lily has been drawing birds on her papers.

The Cardinal Ink

When Sharon is doing some of the drawings, she is drawing so lightly it is impossible to see what she has drawn.  I know that this is because to create your masterpiece, it is better to have the pencil line very light so that it does not show.  But I wish she would use something darker in the drawing portion while telling the children to draw lightly so we can see what she is doing. To help the children see the drawing  I printed out the lesson highlight sections that had the drawing in them and this was helpful but it would be much easier to see it on the screen as it is being drawn.  Also Sharon works very quickly and we had to pause the videos often.  This is not so easy when your hands are covered in soft pastels!  I wish more time was given to complete each section of the projects.

Peaceful Lake Soft Pastel

I asked the children to choose which one was their favorite. 

Emmie (just turned 6)

Anthony (11)

Christian (9)

Lily (just turned 8)

We love Creating a Masterpiece and look forward to making more masterpieces! We are going to try some paintings with acrylics next.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 26

I'm a day behind getting this posted because I usually work on it Sunday afternoons but I had an article I had to write yesterday that took me forever and our internet was running super slow.  After that I just needed a break from the computer for awhile and had other things I needed to do.  Emmie woke up yesterday morning running fever and Alex (who had escaped all of the sickness so far this winter) had a sore throat, so I guess it continues on another week.

This week in our homeschool we got off to a late start just about every day.  I blame the time change. Anthony had a day this week that he wasn't feeling well and since Christian and Anthony do a lot of their work together, we just skipped a few things.  We missed Thursday because we were gone all day.

Week 26 in our Homeschool

P.E.: We skipped it this week.

Bible: In Window on the World we read about the Tibetans and Buddhism.  Our memory verse was Matthew 20:28 and we read Matthew 21:23-22:14.

Read Aloud: We read 4 chapters in Gladys Aylward.  In the afternoon we read several chapters of Shepherd, Potter, Spy, and the Star Namer.  In the evening we are reading The Quest for Seven Castles.

Poetry: We started working on Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably by Hilaire Belloc.

E.C.C: In the geography portion we did a flag sheet and wrote information about the flag. We also looked at Chinese numbers and reviewed the location of all the places we have studied so far.  In the science portion we read about the seas and the oceans and did some experiments with salt.

History: We completed two stops in Passport Ancient Greece on Greek Heroes and Warfare.

Art: We did the Floral Medley lesson from Creating a Masterpiece.

Language Arts:  I read Christian and Anthony a short composition on wool and they had to write it in their own words.  This is the last lesson we will be completing in Language Lessons for Today.  We will not start a new language arts.  Instead we will focus on Readers in Residence.

Spelling/Reading: Lily completed lesson 20 in All About Reading Level 3.  She read a cute story called Squirrel Antics.  Anthony and Christian finished Step 28 in AAS Level 3.  This was the last lesson in the book.  We are starting a review on Readers in Residence from Apologia.  Our review items came in on Tuesday so I read through the introductory stuff really quick and did the first lesson with the boys on Wednesday.  I ordered a second book (we only get one to review) so they can both do it together and that came on Friday so we can dive back in right after our break.

Math: Nick completed lesson 25 in MUS Geometry.  Alex completed 3 lessons in Teaching Textbooks 7.  Anthony and Lily completed 2 lessons in Math Lessons for a Living Education, and Christian completed 3.  Emmie wanted a math book of her own.  I was not going to start her in one until next year because there are math worksheets included in MFW K, but I went ahead and started her on Math Lessons for a Living Education Level One.  She loved it!! And completed several lessons each day.

MFW Creation from A to Z: Emmie started the unit on "k" for kangaroo.  We talked about kangaroos and she finished her picture card page, sound discrimination page, and handwriting page.

Nature Study: Did not get to it this week.

Digital Savvy: The boys started chapter 2.

All American History and God's Design in Nature: Nick completed through lesson 29 in AAH.  I honestly have no idea where he is in science since he is not following the suggested schedule.  He has started reading ahead and then going back to complete the hands on activities.

Other Activities this Week:

Monday Emmie had to get her ears rechecked in the morning and Christian had a soccer practice that evening.

Tuesday was gymnastics.  Lily sat and watched because she still was not feeling 100%..  We ate at the park and Nick went to youth.  Christian had his first soccer game.  He did not play much because he pulled a muscle.  Alex had a soccer practice.

Wednesday was Kid's Club and Lily's birthday.  We went out to eat at a local restaurant for her birthday dinner.

Thursday Chelsea had a doctor's appointment.  It was supposed to be a quick one so I loaded up all the children so we could go to the museum one last time before my pass expires ( I will buy a new one but I like to get my money's worth in a year.)  The appointment lasted much longer then we thought because they decided to do her glucose tolerance test.  We were there for two hours.  Then we ran and grabbed a quick lunch and headed over to the museum.

We were home for an hour and a half and had to head out to Alex's soccer game.

Friday we had grocery shopping and errands.

We are taking a short break from school next week to get caught up on a few things.

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!